Old processes, new perspectives: Familiarity is correlated with (not independent of) recollection and is more (not equally) variable for targets than for lures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

According to dual-process models of memory, recognition is subserved by two processes: recollection and familiarity. Many variants of these models assume that recollection and familiarity make stochastically independent contributions to performance in recognition tasks and that the variance of the familiarity signal is equal for targets and for lures. Here, we challenge these 'common-currency' assumptions. Using a model-comparison approach, featuring the Continuous Dual Process (CDP; Wixted & Mickes, 2010) model as the protagonist, we show that when these assumptions are relaxed, the model's fits to individual participants' data improve. Furthermore, our analyses reveal that across items, recollection and familiarity show a positive correlation. Interestingly, this across-items correlation was dissociated from an across-participants correlation between the sensitivities of these processes. We also find that the familiarity signal is significantly more variable for targets than for lures. One striking theoretical implication of these findings is that familiarity-rather than recollection, as most models assume-may be the main contributor responsible for one of the most influential findings of recognition memory, that of subunit zROC slopes. Additionally, we show that erroneously adopting the common-currency assumptions, introduces severe biases to estimates of recollection and familiarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-67
Number of pages28
JournalCognitive Psychology
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Aggregation bias
  • Continuous dual processes model
  • Familiarity
  • Functional independence
  • Recollection
  • Stochastic independence

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